Gosh it’s just a whole new avatar everytime! happy, cheery, uhhh–dooooo—rable!!!! i truly felt like i was watching a li’l cuddly bunny/bear talking animatedly!! so much happiness that emanates from his persona!! makes my whole entire life each and everytime!!!!:D
Season 7 runner-up David Archuleta has a new album in the works, a book about to hit the shelves, and a very busy few months staring him in the adorably dimpled face. But the 19-year-old native of Murray, Utah, still made time to talk to us between his travels to Nashville for songwriting sessions. The follow-up to David’s gold-selling debut is slated for release later this year, but read on to learn about its progress, as well as David’s experience with the Spanish-language “We Are the World” and his thoughts on the new season of “American Idol.”
What do you think of Season 9 so far?
I just really feel for the contestants. I want to talk to them, to tell them: I went through this, and I know what it’s like. While you’re there, you’re overwhelmed with so many different things. It’s a lot of work but you’re gonna learn so much from it, and there will be so many opportunities that you wouldn’t even imagine coming to you. And all the people who work on “Idol” — so many of them made what I thought was an impossible dream come true. These are the people who can really change your life.
Talent-wise, do they measure up to previous contestants?
I think they’re really talented. They show a lot of their own personalities, and I liked that about them. And there’s some really good singers, too. Like Andrew Garcia, I like the character that he’s shown. I feel like there’s a lot of pressure for them because people are now expecting them to change up the songs, and they’re not sure exactly what to be showing people. It’s matter of balance — changing the song enough to show who you are but still preserving the song for what made it magical.
Is that the secret, David? You would know, having made it all the way to the finale.
It’s difficult. You only have so much time in the day to think about that. Especially for the kids who are in school who study and are supposed to use their brain in another way for a lot of the day. Sometimes it’s hard to focus on both things at once, especially when you have to sing in front of millions of people. But “Idol” is like boot camp — that’s what I always say. It just makes you strong and gives you the knowledge and experience that you’ll need in the future. I’m excited to continue watching.
Tell us about your new material, and how long you’ve been working on it.
I’ve been working on it since January, but I had my first writing sessions in the summer, and I went to Nashville to write in October. Then the Christmas album came out and sort of took over, but I go back to Nashville this week.
It’s a really fun town, and I just love the people there. They’re really focused, very humble people, and the writers want the songs to be meaningful. That means a lot to me. It’s just a matter of finding that balance between radio hits and songs that really bring a message across to people. Plus, I love to tell a story, but I want to talk about my own stories, so I’ve been learning a lot about the writing process by working with people like Matt Squire.
Is there something you’re trying to accomplish with this record that you weren’t able to do on the first one?
[Lyrically], I just want it to sound more like me. I want people to say, “This is David talking.” Instead of just interpreting — and I’m sure there will be songs like that — I want to focus on showing people who I am, what my personality is like and hoping that I leave an impression on people. Even if it’s a light, fun topic, I still want it to make people think. I don’t want a typical everyday relationship song. If it’s going to be about a relationship, I want to create an image in people’s minds and let their imaginations go.
Have any current artists helped inspire you as the album has come together?
Jason Mraz, A Fine Frenzy, Owl City, Imogen Heap… those are some of my favorite artists. I love how Imogen gets you thinking and her music paints all these pictures in your mind. Owl City too, the weird abstractness makes all these colors and images come to life in your head. I love it when a song can do that. I don’t wanna get too abstract about it, but I want people to have a good time with the music and for it to match my personality. That’s kind of the goal right now, which is still kind of difficult because I’m still figuring out what exactly I want to do.
Please tell us we won’t be hearing you all auto-tuned. …
I hate auto-tune! There’s a certain emotion that you work on trying to get into your voice all these years, and I feel like auto-tune takes that away. Sometimes imperfections are supposed to be there! I have a hard time singing with it on because I pay so much attention to what is coming out of me, that when what I’m hearing in my headphones is not the same as what’s actually coming out, it really throws me off. So, no, I’m not a fan of auto-tune.
One of your songs, “She’s Not You,” was leaked recently. Is it a contender for this new album?
That was like the third song I ever recorded a year and a half ago. I don’t know how it got leaked. I guess people are hacking into things a lot more, like Jason Mraz’s Twitter [account] got hacked into.
I recorded over 30 songs for my first album, and this was one of them. It was written by E-Man [Emanuel Kiriakou], who wrote “Crush,” and I really liked recording it, but it didn’t make the record. And now, he worked hard to write that song, record it and produce it, but because it’s not released or for sale on iTunes, he’s not being provided for all the work he did. So I feel really bad for him.
Your book, “Chords of Strength,” is coming out. How do you respond to those who say you’re too young to write a memoir?
I agree with them. When the idea was brought to me, I was like, “Huh? I’m only 19, and I don’t think my life has been that interesting.” At first, I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it. Except in my liner notes [laughs], I was never good at writing a lot. Even in school, I always stayed after class because I’d never finish my essay in time. So writing has been a challenge but something I’ve been working on. Also, a lot of people ask me questions about my life, and I thought this is a great way for me to finally explain how I managed to get to this point at a young age and why I’m still the way I am. That’s the focus in the book: There were so many times when I thought, “I’m not good enough,” or, “There’s no way this is going to happen,” and then it does happen. I like to share those things with people, which is what music’s all about — having even a small influence by sharing my stories.
What was the process like?
It was very challenging, but I feel like it taught me a lot of things. It brought back memories that I completely forgot about because it got me thinking deeper and in more detail.
Last month you joined Emilio and Gloria Estefan, Ricky Martin, Shakira and a host of Latin luminaries to take part in “Somos El Mundo,” the Spanish-Language version of “We Are the World.” How was that experience for you?
It was just amazing to be around so many Latin artists. I was a little nervous because I don’t have the greatest Spanish, but I was able to get by. And my mom idolizes Gloria Estefan, so I brought her with me, which was really special. Plus, I just love to be able to reach out, and I love when people come together for such a good cause. I feel such a love for people [in need] especially now, with all the things that have been happening, not just with Haiti.
Would you consider doing a Spanish album?
I really want to. I love those people. I love what they’re all about, the culture they’ve given to me in my life with my mom’s side of the family. … Latin people are so passionate about music and emotional and expressive that way.
Perez Hilton recently suggested that Gloria Estefan would be a good “Idol” judge. Would you agree?
I think she’d be a really good candidate. She has a lot of knowledge, she’s a songwriter and a performer, she’s been under those pressures and has accomplished a lot in her life. Plus, she’s a very nice, down-to-earth person. I think she’d be a really good candidate.
Any plans for you to appear on the show this year?
I’d love to. I really wanna go back, and I’ve been trying to watch this season as much as I can.